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Author: The Conversation

From Majority Power to Minority Rights: The influence of religious politics on the Supreme Court

By Morgan Marietta, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell A movement for religious rights is transforming the place of religion in American public life. From the 1960s until very recently, liberals successfully argued at the Supreme Court that the tyranny of the majority cannot define the lives and experiences of secular citizens. For decades, the court regularly ruled that laws imposed by local majorities enforcing school prayer or religious displays on government property violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which has been interpreted to mean the government is prohibited from endorsing religion or favoring...

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Dark Money: How campaign funds from undisclosed sources has poisoned the democratic process

By Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation, Columbia University With the 2020 campaign season upon us, “dark money” is again in the news. Yet most voters remain uninformed about what exactly it is and why the shadow funding is considered such a problem. As a law professor who studies campaign finance, I’d like to answer those questions and explain how improved disclosure laws could shed some light on dark money. 1. What is ‘dark money’? Election campaigns run on money. Money pays for salaries, travel – and especially advertising. Candidates who are not personally wealthy depend on...

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How America’s computer industry got a vital jumpstart from processing the U.S. Census

By David Lindsay Roberts, Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, Prince George’s Community College The U.S. Constitution requires that a population count be conducted at the beginning of every decade. This census has always been charged with political significance, and continues to be. That’s clear from the controversy over the conduct of the upcoming 2020 census. But it is less widely known how important the census has been in developing the U.S. computer industry, a story that I tell in my new book, “Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History.” Population growth The only use of the census...

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A Shot in the Arm: How the seasonal influenza vaccine prevents the spread of contagious viral infections

By Libby Richards, Associate professor of nursing, Purdue University Flu vaccination prevents millions of flu-related illnesses and deaths annually, but vaccination rates are low for many reasons. During the 2018-2019 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 45% of U.S. adults received the flu vaccine. While this is an increase of 8% from 2017-2018, it falls way below the national goal of 70% of American adults receiving a flu shot. One of the common myths that leads people to avoid the flu shot is that they think the shot will give them the flu....

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Gaminiscing: Video games are connecting generations by teaches history from personal experiences

By Bob De Schutter, C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Applied Game Design, Miami University It is one thing to learn about history in a classroom. But as any visitor to a living museum or historic site can tell you, a fantastic way to learn is to make a personal connection. In early 2019, media entrepreneur Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya brought the stories of Eva Heyman, a Hungarian Jew who was murdered in Auschwitz, to social media with the simple question, “What if a girl in the Holocaust had Instagram?” “Eva Stories” was a one-day project told through...

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Cultures since Antiquity have blamed games for causing their social woes

By Lindsay Grace, Knight Chair of Interactive Media; Associate Professor of Communication, University of Miami Video games are often blamed for unemployment, violence in society and addiction – including by partisan politicians raising moral concerns. Blaming video games for social or moral decline might feel like something new. But fears about the effects of recreational games on society as a whole are centuries old. History shows a cycle of apprehension and acceptance about games that is very like events of modern times. From ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, historians know that the oldest examples of board games trace back to the...

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